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September 25, 2012

Judge Tosses Burlington Telecom Lawsuit, Jonathan Leopold Feels "Vindicated"

Jonathan LeopoldSuperior Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford today threw out a lawsuit two former city councilors filed against the city of Burlington seeking repayment of $17 million in taxpayer money illegally loaned to Burlington Telecom during Bob Kiss' tenure as mayor.

The lawsuit by Gene Shaver and Fred Osier sought to hold Jonathan Leopold (pictured), personaly liable for repaying the cash; Kiss's powerful chief administrative officer oversaw the loans to BT. According to the Burlington Free Press, Crawford ruled that the municipally owned Burlington Telecom had in fact violated its state license by failing to pay back loaned taxpayer money within 60 days, but ruled that Leopold wasn't on the hook.

Seven Days contributing writer Kevin J. Kelley caught up with Leopold by phone Tuesday evening; he had just returned from a short holiday with his family in Italy.

"I feel vindicated," Leopold told Kelley. "It's taken a long time for the facts to come out and I'm pleased with the decision."

Asked if he was worried he might lose, Leopold said, "The facts of the case were very clear. I always believed that eventually this would be dismissed. The allegations by the plaintiffs were untrue and I was confident we would prevail. It's been about two and a half years and has consumed a lot of my time, so it's very welcome that it's turned out this way."

Asked to comment on Judge Crawford's finding that wrongdoing had occured, Leopold said, "I can't comment because I haven't read the decision."

Finally, Kelley asked Leopold what he's up to these days. "I'm semi-retired. I do some work with my son" who has a dive shop and a lodge business in the Bahamas.

File photo by Jordan Silverman

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